When Good Lectures Go Wrong

So I went to a lecture last night, by a French linguist, about the idea of happiness as expressed through words. And it was definitely a study in something, but I learned more about my own attention span than how to be happy.

To start with, it lasted two and a half hours, and started twenty minutes late. In theory, I don't have a problem with those things. Well, I sort of do, but not a huge problem. Friday night lectures at SJC lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I totally used to space a lot of those out, but theoretically if the lecturer was engaging (which this guy was) I'm up for listening to him as long as he feels like talking. And the pacing of the lecture was really good, with breaks for actors to come out and read short poems on the subject (it sounds very sixth grade, but that was cool too; the poems were on topic, the readers were good, and it did help with the pacing). The lady interviewing the guy had good questions, the guy was interesting, okay, I can't follow French for two and a half hours, but if I could I would want to follow this.

And the lecture was free, too, so I can't complain too much about its starting late. Maybe the guy was getting his nose hair waxed, I don't know. Shit happens.

But you put those two things together -- the lecture was supposed to start at 8:30 pm, it doesn't start until almost nine, and then it lasts two and a half hours -- on a week night -- and it's like, shit, people. If you're twenty minutes late, ditch your last couple of questions so you can bring it in under two hours. Ditch the poetry readers. Ditch the raffel winners. Ditch something, for Christ's sake.

For the first 30 or 45 minutes, it was great. I actually could follow, word by word, what the guy was saying. It helped that he spoke really clearly, and had nice straightforward ideas, but I was still really proud of myself. I was getting about as much out of it as an English lecture, and that made me really happy. Then for the next hour or so I was sort of spacing in and out, but I do that in English lectures too, so that was okay, and when I tuned in the guy was always saying something interesting. But for the last forty five minutes I was picturing the Interviewing Lady being strangled and drowned at the same time, because it was after 10:30pm, I'd been up since 7 on like, six hours of sleep, and I was at a lecture that would not end, rather than at home, unconscious.

Brite said, on the way home, that she felt the same thing -- by the end you didn't care what he was saying that you were missing, you just wanted him to shut up already, and pretty soon your whole feeling about the lecture went from 'Awesome' to 'Okay, I guess'. Which was really, really annoying.


Veronica Mars - Show Me the Monkey

So I finally got to watch the new Veronica Mars yesterday. So nice to have a new episode. So now I must write a review before I pollute my mind with what everyone else is saying about it. This review has spoilers, for this episode and the season mysteries of season one and season two; plus spoilers for the first arc in season three. Basically, anything that's already aired, nothing that is yet to air.

Generally, I liked it. I thought the acting was better even than usual -- I find the acting on VM generally really good (my dad thinks it's shit; shows you what he knows) but the regulars this week were really excellent, particularly Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring. The latter did a really good job making his depression interesting; he seemed completely broken up but without chewing scenery, going too far, or not giving us enough. (In other words, not Mr. Billowy Coat King of Pain, to quote from Buffy.) Kristen Bell, I think, also did really well, especially in her scenes at the end, the conversation with Piz and the reunion with Logan. I was going to say I wish she'd given us more to show her feelings throughout the rest of the episode, rather than just the one brief scene at the food court, but thinking about it, there was something missing -- some energy, some perkiness, maybe -- that's usually present in her portrayal, that was missing, probably deliberately. And the character of Veronica is not as open or emotional as the character of Logan. (We've seen Logan freak out emotionally -- sometimes at Veronica -- while Veronica's reaction has been to shut down. E.g., their relationship at the end of season one, and even earlier this season, with the affair of the bodyguard.) So Veronica's reaction was perfectly in character, although Logan's was more fun to watch.

I got very, very involved in the Mac storyline, too -- I think Tina Majorino does a fantastic job. I like her new boy, and I really liked the way that Mac believed him about the week's mystery and that was what lead her to trust him in their personal relationship. I actually thought it was handled relatively subtly, which is rare for TV (no moment where Mac looked in the mirror and saw into her own soul or anything); that made me like it more. Mac and Bronson were cute enough that I really could have done with them just seeing each other and flirting for a couple of episodes before the payoff. It didn't feel out of character like this, and it wasn't exactly rushed, but it could have been longer and I think I would have enjoyed it as much or more. I am going to be wicked pissed when he goes evil in a couple weeks. (That's not a spoiler, that's just my theory.)

The Parker-Mac-Veronica dynamic was also really really good, especially when contrasted to the Chip-Logan-Dick dynamic. Since both groups were basically doing the same thing, it was nice to see the ways they were supportive of each other, and how different girls and boys go about handling stuff like that.

The actual mystery.... eeeh. Okay, the monkey was cute. But I feel like the mysteries this season have been a little disappointing. Not in that they don't make sense, because they do, and they're fulfilling, and all that. But maybe because I've been watching the show for two and a half seasons, it's much harder for me to be surprised by the culprit. It was a problem I had with the conclusion of the rape arc too -- not that I predicted it was Mercer and Moe, per se, but I did predict it was two people, and Mercer and Moe were both on my suspect list. So I wasn't particularly surprised, either by their identities or their cooperation. Compare that to the reveal about Aaron Echolls at the end of the first season -- I was really careful not to be spoiled ahead of time, and I was surprised and delighted, because it was unexpected and made perfect sense. (Beaver in season two was a little too far on the unexpected end of the spectrum; Mercer and Moe were too far on the made sense side.) A lot of the standalone episodes in season one did the same thing for me -- Clash of the Tritons, Betty and Veronica, and Like a Virgin come to mind; there were a couple in season two also -- Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough, for example.

This episode didn't do that as well in my opinion. Part of that is that the show is two and a half years old, like I said -- when you read a lot mysteries by the same author, too, you sort of see where they're going after awhile (or so my mom tells me; it's only ever happened to me with Harry Potter). I imagine the creators work really hard to try to keep the audience on their toes, and it's certainly not like some shows (Angel) where you can predict where it's going right from the beginning. I just so loved being surprised in the first couple of seasons, and I really miss that. You start thinking like the creators, and there's only a certain number of people it could be... oh well.

As a side note, I can see -- based on what we know about Mac's parents from Silence of the Lamb -- that her first pacifier might have been jerky. But (like everyone else on the internet, I'm sure) I don't know why she didn't mention that she's a vegan. Okay, it's possible that her mom got it wrong in the earlier episode; Mac might be a vegetarian or not partake in certain kinds of meat, which she might not have mentioned, either out of shyness or self defense (people make fun of the way I eat all the time, so I don't tell them about it unless they're cooking me dinner). Still, it was a really weird moment.

Also weird was the way both Parker and Chip Diller seemed to sort of shrug off their assaults from the last arc. I really don't want to say one thing or another about how people cope with that kind of thing, obviously everyone is different. But as a viewer, it felt a little -- strange, that we got mentions of both of them, but both characters sort of refused to really engage it. However, possibly that's very realistic, I don't know. And it's definitely better than the creators pretending they never happened, now that the arc is over. I guess I'd believe it of Parker, but I wish the actor playing Chip had put something extra into his performance at that moment, to show he was shrugging it off for the benefit of his friends, or at least that making jokes about it was difficult. However, it's possible he did, and I didn't catch it (youtube is great, but not exactly high definition).

Those are my thoughts. And, let's see, current prediction about who killed Dean O'Dell: Landry, working in cahoots with a maintenance guy or office aide.


Unclever first entry

Whew, so, my very own blog, which I swore I'd never start. Obviously, I lied.

So, thoughts for today.
1) It is very annoying that not a single store in France is open on Sunday, except for at Christmas. I have, seriously, no food. Okay, I have some powdered soups and some cheeses, but nothing at all solid. It is annoying that although I keep trying to learn to both cook and shop for food, after several months (more than that if you count senior year at SJC) I still completely and totally suck at it. And I always fall back on bread and cheese or pasta, and then I get sick of them, and it's a horrible vicious cycle.
2) Speaking of vicious cycles, my reading right now. I'm not sure why, but I am enjoying the novel Dangerous Liaisons way more this time than when I tried to read it in college. Part of it is having more time on my hands, but I'm also just more interested in it. It really disturbs me that I enjoy reading that book. The people in there do such terrible things, in the most awesome way possible. I read it, and get interested, and then get really disturbed that I'm so interested in these horrible people, and then read more and writhe because they're so horrible. I think I will save a real review for when I have finished it.
3) My sixieme talked all through my lesson this morning. It would be so much easier if I knew what activity to do with them. I think this afternoon I will do the same thing as before except I'll divide them into teams so they're trying to compete instead of just trying to think of things.
4) I did the whole registration process for this blog entirely in French. So on one hand I'm very proud of myself for more or less giving the right answers to the right questions, and on the other hand I'm a little concerned that maybe I haven't.

I haven't yet learned how to be clever and judgmental and opinionated in this particular medium, so stay tuned. Within a couple weeks this will be much more interesting to read.